With the number of people seeking medical treatment at the state’s two biggest hospitals plunging, many animal hospitals are feeling the effects.
The Houston Methodist Hospital has seen a jump in new patient admissions this year, from 4,200 in the first nine months of this year to 12,400 in April.
And the Baylor Health System says its outpatient admissions have dropped by more than a third since March, with its new emergency room capacity only about a third the size of the hospital’s.
In addition, the Houston Animal Hospital, which has more than 8,000 animals in its emergency room, has seen its number of admissions increase by about 50% in the past year, according to an April letter from the hospital and its chief operating officer.
Baylor says its new operating room is designed to accommodate the rapid growth in the emergency department, which it says is now more than twice as large as the hospital used to have.
Houston Animal Hospital’s chief operating Officer, Bill Schmitt, said the hospital is making significant investments in its animal unit to meet new and expanding demands.
Schmitt, who was previously the president of the Texas Hospital Association, said there’s been an increase in hospital admissions and surgical and surgical outpatient services in the last year.
“We have been very successful in meeting our capacity, but it has been a very slow pace,” he said.
Schmott said the expansion of the surgical unit and the surgical team are being managed in a way that will help increase the hospital capacity, as well as its ability to quickly respond to emergencies.
“When you’re in the operating room, you’re the one on the ground with the patients, the one administering the procedures, the ones administering the treatments,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“We have to be careful in that regard because we don’t want to get distracted by what is going on on the operating table.”
When asked if there were any plans to hire more animal nurses, Schmitt said: “No.
We’re not going to do that.”
As the hospital looks to add more animal staff, it’s trying to keep up with the demand.
Last month, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced a $4.6 million increase in emergency department beds, and a similar increase in operating room space.
The agency says it is planning to add an additional 500 beds and more than 2,200 animal patients to the state emergency department by the end of next year.
In the meantime, many animals are still in need of assistance.
The Houston Animal Health System recently received a request from the state for a veterinarian, and they’ve started receiving requests for adoption.
“Our emergency department is filled with animals,” said Dr. Michael C. Toth, the hospital chief of staff.
“Our veterinary teams are doing an incredible job, and we’re just going to continue to be able to meet those needs.”
In the future, he said, the city of Houston would consider adding more animals to its emergency department.
“I think we can really get ahead of it.
The city of Austin has been in the news for a long time for its animal shelters,” he added.